There is some dispute as to the age of Agnes when she died. Ages ranging from 12 to 15 are given although St Ambrose of Milan, whose Treatise on St Agnes, is used for today's office of readings, gives her age as 12.
Agnes was born into a noble Roman family and when the Prefect Sempronius wished Agnes to marry his son, and on Agnes' refusal he condemned her to death. Tradition has it that the prefect's son tried to rape Agnes but was struck dead, only to be revived when Agnes prayed for him.
St Ambrose gives a detailed account of her death and says that her small body was hardly big enough to hold a wound. Ambrose also states that she was impatient to die, wishing to be with the heavenly spouse.
Agnes is held before us as an example of charity and purity. She is the patron saint of virgins, engaged couples and rape victims. She is venerated in the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran traditions.
The appeal of Agnes is her purity and simplicity and she is a model of the virtue of chastity and purity.
image from www.catholicculture.org